Mentha, commonly known as mint leaves, are tasty herbs we often use in cooking. Traditionally, mint was used for aromatherapy, and was given the title ‘the herb of hospitality’, because of its use as a room deodorizer in olden times.
Peppermint and spearmint are the two most familiar types of mint, but there are around 20 different species in the mint family. You may love the taste and smell of fresh mint, but did you know that it has specific health benefits too? Read on to find out what they are.
1. Digestive Aid
Eating fresh mint leaves or any dish containing mint can help to stimulate your salivary glands, which triggers increased bile secretions to aid digestion. The University of Maryland Medical Center discovered that mint enables more efficient bile flow, and helps to relax the muscles of the digestive tract.
Mint can also help to expel gas and relieve associated symptoms, and it has a mild anesthetic effect that can help soothe minor inflammation in the stomach, including gastric ulcers.
2. Treats Headache, Dizziness and Nausea
The anti-inflammatory qualities of mint can help treat headache, dizziness and nausea. Mint leaves can also help calm a fever, as the cooling properties refresh the body and dissipate the heat caused by the fever.
The Journal of Advanced Nursing has mentioned the effects of using mint leaves to relieve nausea after surgery. Mint can be taken as a tea, in capsule form, or by crushing the leaves to inhale the aroma.
3. Relieves Nasal Congestion
Inhaling the steam of boiled mint leaves can help to reduce the symptoms of asthma and the common cold. The aroma of mint can make you breathe easier, and helps relieve irritation caused by coughing.
Menthol has anti-inflammatory properties, which help to open the respiratory tract and relieve bronchial constriction.
4. Improves Oral Health
Manufacturers often add mint in their oral care products because of the benefits to dental health.
People have chewed on mint leaves to relieve toothache for centuries, and mint has antiseptic properties that treat infections. It also contains a substance called chlorhexidine, which is a potent anti-microbial compound used to protect against tooth decay and bad breath.
5. Prevents Head Lice and Dandruff
A natural way to prevent head lice and dandruff is to massage your scalp with crushed mint leaves. Mint has antiseptic and antibacterial properties, which help to relieve irritation and itching as it cleans your scalp.
You can apply the mint directly, but a more effective way is to crush and pound the leaves until it makes a smooth paste. You can also mix crushed mint into petroleum-based products to apply to the scalp as a treatment to manage dandruff.
6. Can Help With Breastfeeding Nipple Pain
The International Breastfeeding Journal reported that women who drink mint tea or mint-infused water regularly, have a lower risk in developing areola cracks. There are also mint-based nipple balms that soothe irritation.
7. Colic in Infants
Mint contains a compound called simethicone, which calms the baby. Simethicone is an anti-gas agent that is contained in many commercially available infant colic drops.
8. Improves Blood Circulation
When you inhale the scent of boiled mint leaves or mint essential oil, you will get a sudden increase in your pulse rate and blood circulation.
The whole process is good for cognitive function, and can help to protect from diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
9. Helps Relieve Muscle Pain
Mint contains antispasmodic agents, which can be used to soothe sore muscles. These substances relax tense or inflamed muscles, and the cooling properties of mint add to the treatment.
10. Revives Skin
Mint has vitamin E and vitamin D, which help to rejuvenate the skin. It also contains salicyclic acid, which can help to speed up the turnover of dead skin cells, and can be helpful in dealing with fungal infections.
The astringent properties of mint help to eliminate excess sebum and shrink pores.
11. Promotes Eye Health
Vitamin A is essential to maintaining eye health, and it’s found in mint. Deficiency of vitamin A can result in night blindness, xeropthalmia, and other vision issues such as premature macular degeneration.
12. Could Help Weight Loss
Mint is said to stimulate the digestion of fat, and acts as a trigger for digestive enzymes to absorb food nutrients and convert them into energy.
13. Immune System Booster
Mint provides the vitamin C your body needs to fight illnesses. Vitamin C is a well-known immunity booster, so it’s important to get enough of it.